It wasn’t quite the infamous swinging gate fiasco in Indianapolis, but it was darn close, and it most definitely swung the momentum in the Patriots’ favor.
Holding a 13-point lead and all the mojo early in the third quarter Sunday, the Texans tried to get cute, and boy did it get ugly quick.
Faced with a fourth and 2 from their 36, Houston sent out its punt team. Prior to the snap, however, Terrence Brooks went in motion from his gunner spot and lined up in the punt protector’s slot as punter Cameron Johnston stepped closer to line of scrimmage, setting off Patriot alarm bells that a fake was on.
Returner Gunner Olszewski recognized it and bolted up and switched to a defensive mind-set. The fake was a fake, however, and Johnston moved back, and Olszewski followed suit.
Johnston didn’t give himself enough room, however, and when the ball was snapped, Lawrence Guy’s swift power rush caught long snapper Jon Weeks flatfooted and Johnston by surprise and the punter promptly booted the ball off Brooks’s helmet and it bounced out of bounds.
It officially went as a 0-yard punt, though it really belonged on Guy’s stat line.
Patriots special teams coordinator Cam Achord praised the players in his unit for being alert and adjusting their roles accordingly.
“The guys did a great job checking into the formational adjustment checks that we have, generated the pressure, and obviously [Guy] did a great job driving the snapper back, which obviously led to the blocked punt right there,’’ Achord said Tuesday. “So, credit to those guys being locked in, because it’s something you have to work and it’s something they have to execute quickly. That goes without saying. Execution of seeing it, but then getting it done in a matter of 10 seconds, it’s a different animal. At practice, it can be, ‘All right, let’s slow it down a little bit, make sure we’re good.’ In the game, the bullets are flying. So, credit to those guys on the field.’’
The Patriots scored 3 points off the play, the start of a run of 16 unanswered points that secured the 25-22 win.
Achord wasn’t on the Patriots staff back in 2015 when the Colts ran their ill-fated and now famous fake punt, but acknowledged Sunday’s play was one of the craziest he’s been involved in.
“That was definitely one and a unique situation that’s shown up. And there some over the years and you just keep track of them because you never know when they’re going to show up and you just got to be ready,’’ he said. “But it was definitely an exciting play for us on that situation. And obviously, it helped the team get some momentum, and that’s what special teams is about is creating those big plays, those impact plays to bring some energy throughout the game.’’
McDaniels calls it as he sees it
Josh McDaniels said he understands the frustrations when plays, or a series of plays, don’t work out the way they’re designed. The Patriots’ offensive coordinator even hears it at home when his calls don’t get the desired results.
“I would never call something that I didn’t have confidence or faith in that it would be the right call and I have also never had a game where I had every call be right, either,’’ said McDaniels, when asked about the series right after the blocked punt – a 3-yard run, a 3-yard loss on a run, and 3-yard screen pass. “And so, I’m human, I know that for a fact, I make just as many mistakes as anyone else does and the intent was always right because I want us to be able to do the things we’re calling well. I will always take responsibility for the execution if it’s not good, that’s my job.
“Certainly those three plays that you’re referring to were not our best plays of the day and I have to do better and that’s what I’m going to focus on trying to do and again, give our guys the best chance to be successful in those plays. But I understand the [second-guessing], I get it from my wife.
“So, the frustration is, I understand it. I just am never going to call a play that I feel doesn’t have a good chance to be successful.’’
Davis in for a look
The Patriots worked out veteran safety Sean Davis, who played parts of five seasons with the Steelers (2016-20) and also had brief stints in Indianapolis and Cincinnati . . . The NFL announced it’s in discussions with three German cities (Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, and Munich) to host a regular-season game. According the NFL, viewership in Germany has grown by 20 percent annually since 2017. The Patriots have a strong fanbase in the country with many following fullback Jakob Johnson, a German native, and would be a logical choice. “I think that would be great. [Jakob] is an icon over there,’’ said tight ends/fullbacks coach Nick Caley. Another German, offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer won a Super Bowl with New England.